IDNR Welcomes 2019 Volunteers of the Year Award Recipients

Rachel Torbert
IDNR Welcomes 2019 Volunteers of the Year Award Recipients
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today announced recipients of the 2019 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year, recognizing four individuals and members of an outdoors organization for their volunteer service to the IDNR.

“From helping visitors enjoy their stay at a state park campground to working on maintenance and improvements to state recreation area mountain bike trails, to assisting other volunteers in providing educational programs and information to visitors at our busiest state park, we salute these all-star volunteers,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan. “Volunteers provide tens of thousands of hours of their time assisting staff and visitors at our state parks, state museums and historic sites, and we cannot thank them enough.”

The IDNR Outstanding Volunteers of the Year awards ceremony, honoring this year’s award recipients, will be held during the Illinois State Fair at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 at the Conservation World amphitheater on the fairgrounds in Springfield.

The 2019 IDNR Outstanding Volunteers of the Year are:

Cheryl Barto, Peru
Cheryl Barto, who served as an office coordinator at Starved Rock State Park for 17 years until her retirement, continues to serve visitors to the park as a volunteer assisting the Starved Rock Foundation.  Barto has worked with volunteers in the park’s Visitor Center and book store, assisted with decorating the Visitor Center for special occasions, and walked the park’s trails assisting visitors.

Nancy Bernardoni, Utica
Nancy Bernardoni, who served as an office coordinator at Starved Rock State Park for 30 years until her retirement, worked with the IDNR in the creation of the Starved Rock Foundation, which facilitates the Visitor Center programs at the park. Bernardoni assists the foundation with accounting and recordkeeping to help the organization in its efforts to staff the Visitor Center information desk, lead interpretive hikes at the park, and provide educational materials and programs.

LeeAnn Talty, Streator
LeeAnn Talty assists the Starved Rock Foundation with its financial accounting and recordkeeping to assist the organization in providing Visitor Center staffing, educational programs, and interpretive hikes to visitors at Starved Rock State Park. Talty been a longtime volunteer at Starved Rock, having been recruited to help by her mother, Nancy Bernardoni.

Sandy Goad, Mattoon
Sandy Goad has served as the campground host at Walnut Point State Park in east-central Illinois for nine years, greeting campers and assisting them while they are staying at the park. Staff at Walnut Point also rely on Goad as their “eyes and ears” in the campground, alerting them to maintenance needs and allowing staff to work on other projects at the site. Goad also organizes an annual Halloween party at Walnut Point, with trick-or-treating, campsite decorating, a kids’ costume contest and hayrack rides. The campground is sold out well in advance of Halloween weekend due to the popularity of the event. Goad also organized the “Walnut Point Cruise In” car show and cruise through the park, which was so successful in its debut last year that more than 50 entries have been received for this year’s event.

Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club, Champaign
Members of the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club have been active in a number of trail improvement and enhancement projects at Kickapoo State Recreation Area in Vermilion County, providing nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer service already in 2019. Club members help maintain 14 miles of mountain bike trails at the site, fixing eroded sections of trail, removing trees that have succumbed to emerald ash borer, and building up areas of the trail where needed. This year, the club designed and built a new section of trail approximately 3 miles in length, with club members funding equipment rentals and materials purchased for the trail section and trail bridges. The project turned a previously underutilized area into a first-class mountain bike trail.  The club also maintains an informative webpage with details on the Kickapoo trail system that include elevations and a photo tour.
Follow IDNR on Facebook and Twitter